ADAIR COUNTY NEWS
Adair County News, January 25, 1899
A Noted Speech
Most Remarkable One ever Made in the Old Court-House.
Delivered by Gen. Frank Wolford, When That Noted Lawyer Was in His Prime.
His Client Easily Acquitted.
Probably one of the most remarkable speeches ever heard in the old court-house here was made by Col. frank Wolford about the close of the civil war.
He was then living in Casey, and came down to a term of the Circuit Court here.
Among the cases on the docket was one, the Commonwealth vs. John Lackey and Elisha Keeton, charge with horse stealing. Lackey had the reputation of being the king of horse thieves in this section, and Keeton was a boy about eighteen years old, brother of the notorious Tom Keeton. They were represented in the examining trial by Garnett and Caldwell and H.C. Baker, and in the Circuit Court Wolford was also employed.
Lackey broke jail, and was not present when the case was called in the Circuit Court, and the case came on to trial against Keeton. The facts as they developed on the trial were very few and very clearly established--and were substantially these: two horses were stolen from the stable of a man named Thomas on a certain night. The evening before, Lackey and Keeton were seen in the neighborhood. The morning following, parties in pursuit traced them to the residence of Keeton's mother in the lower part of the county.
When approached both Lackey and Keeton denied all knowledge of the horses. A search, however, revealed the horses concealed in the woods back of the house. It also appeared in proof that persons answering the description of the two were seen on the road with horses of the description of the stolen horses.
It looked like "an open and shut case" with the conviction certain, and under the circumstances Wolford was pushed forward to make the argument to the jury, as it was leading a forlorn hope, ans he was regarded as better qualified than any one else for the work.
He commenced his speech soon after court met one morning. When the hour for the noon recess came Wolford was still speaking. The court, supposing he had certainly about exhausted himself, when the bells commenced to ring for dinner, interrupted him and asked whether he would prefer to conclude his argument before the adjournment or should he take a recess for dinner. Wolford suggested that recess be taken for dinner.
Returning to the court-house after dinner, he resumed his speech, and five o'clock found him still firing away at the jury. Another adjournment was had. The next morning found him fresh as a daisy and still speaking. He concluded about noon--having consumed a full day and a half.
He had spoken so long and traveled so far and by such devious ways that Capt. Sandidge, the attorney for the Commonwealth, was bewildered when it came his time to speak. In fact, it was speech that could not be followed and did not really need to be answered, but it accomplished its purpose. The jury retired, and after remaining out a few minutes returned a verdict of "not guilty."
The speech had a double effect. It saved Elisha from the penitentiary, and made out of him and orderly citizen. He was never known to be mixed up in questionable transaction after that time.